8 Questions Every Renter Should Ask Before Renting

Apr 26, 2018

Nearly everyone rents a home or apartment at some point in life. Renting may be due to a sudden move, need to save up to buy a home or a host of other reasons. Although most experts would recommend buying a home if possible, renting has its perks too. One of the biggest is that home maintenance, repairs and improvements fall to the owner instead of to you, the renter. However, you likely want to be a smart renter. What questions should you ask when looking for the right rental property? Knowledge beforehand always makes things easier. Below are some questions from the pros to help guide you as you seek to find the ideal property.

1. What are my non-negotiable factors in a rental property?

Maybe you need to be in a specific neighborhood or location for work or school. Maybe you need a certain number of bedrooms for roommates or children. Be specific about what you actually need and flexible on everything else. You may not find a property that perfectly matches all of your needs and wants, but knowing in what areas you can adapt your expectations can help you in your search.

2. What type of rental property meets my needs and budget?

Are you in search of a low-maintenance property? Maybe an apartment or townhome will work for you. Are you needing a home with a yard and room for children and pets to play? Maybe a single family home will be ideal for you. Matching your actual needs with budget constraints can sometimes be tough, but a good rental company with extensive properties should be able to match you with the right property.

3. What happens if I have issues with the rental property?

Unfortunately, maintenance issues are a part of life. From appliance malfunctions to heating and air conditioning issues, it's good to know ahead of time how maintenance issues are handled. How quickly are maintenance requests addressed? Who has access to the rental and how are repair persons monitored? A good landlord will respond quickly and effectively.

4. Am I allowed to have pets in the rental property?

Some rental agreements do not allow pets at all. Others allow them with a pet deposit that may be returned to you when you leave (if the property remains in good shape). It may also be a good idea to check if there are any prohibited breeds or other conditions that may or may not make the property a good fit for you. Additionally, these agreements may often be against local or state laws for renters. However, a rental company will often insert language into an agreement to make things very difficult on pet owners who violate their wishes.

5. What are my responsibilities for the upkeep of the property?

In most townhomes, condominiums and apartments, outside upkeep of the property is taken care of by the landlord. In some single family homes, mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes and maintaining the general appearance of the property fall to the responsibility of the renter.

6. What amenities are included in the rental property?

A home in an established community may include a membership to the community pool, access to the clubhouse and more. In an apartment community, perks often include a dog park, pool, clubhouse and in-house gym. In more crowded areas, a parking space or two is a huge amenity. Looking carefully at the amenities may cause one property to have greater appeal for you than another.

7. How much is the deposit, and how do I get it back when I conclude my rental agreement?

A typical deposit is the same as your first month's rent, so make sure you have enough cash in hand to cover both. Check the rental agreement to see the specific expectations for getting the deposit back when it's time for you to move on. You will at least have to make sure the apartment is clear of all of your items, cleaned and all appliances are in working order.

8. How long is the rental agreement?

Few landlords are interested in short-term leases, so expect to stay put for at least a year. A follow-up question is to find out if after the initial lease, the property can be rented to you month by month. This can be ideal if you're in the process of building a home, buying a home or looking to move out of state.

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